Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Presbyterians: Iraq and Iran

Iran? What do you think? Is the U.S. going to attack or find a way to attack, or support an attack by another nation on Iran? Thanks to Rachel for posting this video from Tehran, Iran.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) didn't think an attack on Iran would be a swell idea. They easily passed this amended commissioner's resolution by a voice vote:

[The 218th General Assembly (2008) directs the Stated Clerk to send the following resolution to the President of the United Stated of America and the United States Congress:]

1. That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) supports a peaceful, diplomatic means to resolve the tensions developing as a result of Iran’s pursuit of its nuclear program, between the United States and Iran.

2. That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls for direct, unconditional negotiations between the United States and Iran with the goal of finding and implementing a peaceful resolution.

3. [That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is opposed to military action against Iran.] [That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is opposed to preemptive military action by any nation against Iran.]

4. That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls for a renewed effort at all levels—people-to-people, interfaith groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and government—to help the United States and Iran eliminate the tensions that have existed between our two nations and to unite the American and Iranian people in a common effort to solve the problems of poverty, illness, and climate change.


The General Assembly debated the situation in Iraq, especially #5. Through the voting process, a third of the commissioners wanted complete withdrawal of troops immediately, but the majority of commissioners (505-152) eventually settled on the following:

Final Text:

That the 218th General Assembly (2008) to do the following:

1. Pray, in a spirit of deep [sorrow and confession humility], for God’s justice and peace to prevail in Iraq; and recognizing and heeding God’s call to love all persons as made in God’s own image, and even to pray for our enemies, encourage all Presbyterians to be in intentional and regular prayer for everyone in and of Iraq: for Iraqi civilians, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Yezidi; for soldiers and armed actors; for the refugees and the displaced; for the tortured and their torturers; and for insurgents, kidnappers, and terrorists, for all are God’s beloved, all are in need of the transformation of God’s love and God’s peace.

2. Commend and thank the peacemakers who have worked nonviolently to end the war in Iraq through prayers, vigils, and acts of resistance and witness such as the actions organized by the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq; and encourage all Presbyterians to participate enthusiastically in peacemaking efforts to end the occupation of Iraq.

3. Commend and thank members of the armed forces, and their loved ones, for their service and sacrifice.

4. Call upon the United States government to support our military personnel by granting speedy discharges to conscientious objectors; fully funding veterans’ benefits; ensuring that injured service personnel and veterans have the best medical, mental health, and rehabilitation care available; and providing generous benefits to surviving family members.

“5. [Call upon the government of the United States to end its military presence in Iraq by withdrawing all troops, hired soldiers, and contractors, and permanently closing all military bases in Iraq.] [Call upon the United States government to develop and implement a lasting peaceful solution, responsibly bring the troops home, and reaffirm the call of the 216th General Assembly (2004) for the United States government to engage with the international community through the United Nations and other international agencies to cooperate with the government of Iraq in providing security, peacekeeping forces, and funding the rebuilding of the country.]


6. Call upon the United States and all member states of the United Nations to establish and fully fund a United Nations peacebuilding mission for Iraq to work in partnership with Iraqi leaders, neighboring nations, and appropriate international governmental and nongovernmental organizations to establish security in Iraq, rebuild institutions and infrastructure, resettle and assist refugees, and initiate a process of truth and reconciliation to promote healing and forgiveness.

7. Call upon the United States and other responsible nations to voluntarily make restitution in an amount adequate to repair war damage; to fully investigate, and where appropriate, in accordance with the principles of due process recognized in U.S. and international law, to prosecute all charges of war crimes including torture and mistreatment of prisoners; and to cooperate completely with any international investigations of war crimes committed by any party to the conflict in Iraq.

8. Call upon the United States to remove all weapons, mines, depleted uranium, and other military waste products from Iraq; to repair other damage to the environment, including priceless archaeological sites.

9. Call upon the United States to return full direct control of Iraq’s oil resources and oil revenues to Iraq.

10. Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this action to the president of the United States, members of the U.S. Congress, and the secretary-general of the United Nations.

“[11. to receive the study paper (of 11-24), "To Repent, To Restore, To Re-Build, and to Reconcile" and direct that it be posted on the website of the Office of the General Asembly and be commended for study throughout the church.]”

12. Commend to the church the call of the 216th General Assembly (2004) for the church to express its pastoral concern for and offer pastoral care to members of the United States armed forces serving their country in the war in Iraq and their families as well as for veterans of the war who have returned home (Iraq: Our Responsibility and the Future, Minutes, 2004, Part I, pp. 864ff).

13. Direct the General Assembly Council to continue and expand the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s commitment to relief efforts in Iraq in cooperation with our ecumenical partners, to ministries that address human needs in Iraq caused by the war, and to long-term development efforts to assist in the rebuilding of the country.

14. Call upon all presbyteries, congregations, and members within the PC (USA) to intentionally, personally, and concretely work to bring healing, peace, justice, and care to all affected by the war in Iraq, not only through our prayers but through the giving of our resources, time, money, and very selves to improve the lives and future of all involved, especially the hurting, the poor, the oppressed, and those whose lives have been damaged by the war.

15. Pray for, call for, and work for a just and peaceful future for the nation and people of Iraq which includes the establishing of a just, stable, and democratic government and the timely departure of U.S. military forces and their contractors as soon as it is possible to leave the nation in an appropriately stable, just, and self-sustaining form.

Stories about actions regarding peacemaking at the General Assembly can be found at the Presbyterian News Service.


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